El Fili Chapter 20: The Arbitrator

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This chapter describes the enigma that is Don Custodio. Imagine, the highly intellectual Don Custodio decided to get advice from G. Pasta (who just confused him with convoluted and contradicting words) and from the Pepay (who just shook her booty and asked for money). I mean, why did he even bother asking those two, right?

Now on to the other notes plus a handy mindmap of this chapter…

Don Custodio was nicknamed “Buena Tinta” by Ben Zayb, because Don Custodio was believed to be an expert when it comes to writing papers. Actually, that was just his reputation, because in reality Don Custodio is not really that competent.

So, how’d he get such a glowing reputation?

1. He’s a Spaniard who’s close to the powers that be.
2. He was able to impress Ben Zayb, the weak-minded but highly influential journalist. (Not that we’re implying that today’s influential journalists are Ben Zayb-like…)
3. He married a rich mestiza.
4. He’s very industrious, especially when it comes to engaging others in debate.

Why did Don Custodio have a difficult time deciding on the students’ proposal regarding the school? He was torn between giving the students a chance, and pleasing the Dominicans of UST. How can you serve two masters, right?

What are examples of Don Custodio’s mental innovation or quirkiness, depending on one’s point of view? (I mean, aside from his plan to raise ducks in order to deepen the Pasig River, if you remember Chapter 1)

1. To avoid accidents, the horse-drawn carriages should have three wheels.
2. Fumigate everything with disinfectants; even the paper used by telegrams.
3. So that the government can save on prison costs, just reform the prisoners.

How does Don Custodio treat the indios? He acts like a father who unwittingly holds his children (the indios) back; who, without quite realizing it, prevents his children from progressing.

Why is he against praising the indios? They might become overconfident, boastful, and rebellious. And that will create problems for the government and the frailes.

What kind of a person is Don Custodio? He is a dangerously deceptive person, because what he does is different from what he holds in his mind.

What is Don Custodio’s final decision regarding the school? This will be revealed in the next chapter, although given your knowledge of his character, you can already guess what that decision will be.

Click on the Mindmap image above to view the larger version.

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